The largest of the sea turtles, leatherbacks reach more than 1.8 m (6 ft) in length and more than 640 kg (1,410 lbs) in weight. During their long migrations, leatherbacks regularly dive to depths greater than 1,000 m (3,281 ft) in search of gelatinous zooplankton to eat. Leatherbacks are rapidly declining in many areas of the world.
Present in all world’s oceans except Arctic and Antarctic
Nesting areas in tropics
Non-nesting range extends to sub-polar regions
Length 140-180+ cm
Mass 300-640 kg
Length approximately 50 mm
Mass 40-50 g
For all life stages, gelatinous zooplankton (jellies and jelly-like organisms)
Reproduce every 2-4 years
Lay 4-7 clutches of eggs per season
Lay 50-90 eggs per clutch
Billiard ball size eggs weigh roughly 80 grams
Incubation period is approximately 60 days long
LEATHERBACK TURTLE FACTS
The leatherback is the only remaining member of its taxonomic family (Dermochelyidae).
Leatherbacks rely on a unique suite of adaptations including large body size, changes in activity and metabolic rate, peripheral insulation (i.e. fat), and adjustments in blood flow to maintain stable core body temperatures in varying water temperatures from temperate to tropical latitudes.
The largest leatherback ever reported was an adult male found in Wales. It was greater than 2 meters (6.6 feet) long and 900 kg (1980 lbs) in mass.
The longest recorded leatherback migration was 13,000 miles – one way!
Leatherbacks dive much deeper than other turtles, regularly reaching depths beyond 1,000 m (3,281 ft). The leatherback’s deepest recorded dives exceed 1,250 m (3,900 ft).